Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Our father's justice gets closer
How could you fuck us all over
Rape, steal and murder
God bless the almighty dollar -- Ozzy Osbourne

Clever entrepreneurs in Campbell in California's Santa Clara Valley must have been drinking all night when they stumbled on the brilliant notion of opening up a shop with the name Psycho Donuts. I can imagine them sitting in the garage, passing a beer bong between them on a couch, the stuffing bursting from a worn cushion, when one of them explodes to his feet, the idea flaring like a cartoon image of an early Edison bulb, filaments sizzling. The owners deserve cheap caricature, since that's what they're about.

They opened the place not too long ago, investing who knows how much, branding it with delight in selling their boiled fat and sugar concoctions with decorative names such as Psycho, the Bipolar, Massive Head Trauma, and the Cracker Attacker. Hilarious. A belly buster.

Inside, they built a small platform, the size of an old telephone booth, into which they erected a stark chair and called the stall "The Padded Cell", where they entice young children to pose for photos while adorned in a straight jacket. When you belly up to the counter at Psycho Donuts, women in nurses' uniforms and sharp white hats take your order.

It's clever, right? Ask any soldier with Massive Head Trauma.

For the first time, soldiers in record numbers are returning from combat with massive head trauma. In previous wars, their armor could not spare them from fatal head wounds, but today, they survive explosions from insurgent devices rigged--like so many glazed donuts--in some Baghdad garage. Head trauma affects vision, hearing, and cognitive faculties--often for life. They experience fatigue, impaired memory, depression, lack of focus, emotional outbursts, loss of libido, faulty judgment. Facing redeployment, many commit suicide. More American soldiers than in any previous era are committing suicide in the comfort of our neighborhoods and mini-malls stocked with all-too-many donut shops.

Psycho Donuts' brilliant entrepreneurs, according to their website, have "taken the neighborhood donut and put it on medication, and given it shock treatment." Sounds like a baker's dozen of glazed and nutty confections are just the thing to cure the aftertaste of whatever truths you see behind the veil of mercantile insanity and prisoners of war in our own homes.

In 2004 I took a freelance job editing the website for NAMI California. It's the state's chapter of a national organization devoted to fighting the stigma associated with mental illness. When soldiers fear harassment or demotions for admitting PTSD, they eschew reporting their condition out of shame and resort to eating a bullet. And they're not alone. In a culture that hands out anti-depressants like candy to help people who have mild depression or who are trying to quit smoking, what's truly insane is that so much stigma is attached to individuals who suffer from grave mental illness. We think of these people as twittering imbeciles, foaming at the mouth, sitting on the eaves of their roofs in aluminum foil hats, channeling alien broadcasts.

They're not. Nor are they violent, as the media and film industry would have you believe (for box office revenue). Most are victims of violence done to them on the streets, where they're often homeless and looking for hope in tobacco or a bottle, products sold over-the-counter with clever names and colorful packages. They're among us everywhere. And so are the members of their families who fight a valiant struggle for normalcy in their daily affairs. I lost a grandfather to suicide--before I was born. My own father was only 17 when it happened. And last year, my uncle took his own life the day before my father's 89th birthday.

Excuse me for not laughing. Our father's justice gets closer, and I'm on a sugar-free diet.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

Char said...

sad..so sad

A Cuban In London said...

Oh, boy, did I enjoy this post! But almost in a guilty way. We tend to look at soldiers coming from war as drooling idiots (especially the media) and we forget that they are human beings, above all. To be honest, though, in countries like USA and the UK where there's no conscription people are not forced to join the army, so, that's also their choice. But when you read about the scholarships and the deals to entice young people (mainly men) to join the army, then I do feel for them, although in a mixed way.

Thanks for the post and the caricature was far too good for them.

Greetings from London.

Anonymous said...

My son-in-law who is a SGT in the Marines is recovering in the Palo Alto VA hospital polytrauma center just a few miles down the road from this donut shop (He was injured by a roadside bomb). He has severe TBI, a feeding tube, loop colostomy and a catheter. Lots of great idea's for new donut names there! Maybe a little room where you can drink your coffee through a trach tube and clip on a heart rate montior that fluxuates when you start eating their donuts. (add belly laugh). How about a CD that plays bomb blast to simulate our military getting killed our injured by IED's...wouldn't that be funny! Well, as long as they are making money---that's what counts.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you. I would also ask for your understanding of the 20 year old college student, more often than not, a high schooler with great promise, who begins to experience symptoms that if untreated, will steal his or her life and dreams. The thinking behind 'Psycho Donuts' is the not-so-subtle stigma that stems from ignorance (or perhaps in this case greed) that can KEEP a person from accepting their illness and getting help. Stillpool

Rebekah said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Your post says it all. I have started a petition that I will be forwarding to the City Council as well as the owners of Psycho Donuts. The petition is to have them change their name or leave Campbell. Please sign it as I already have 91 signatures but I am reaching for a thousand. If that's possible.


Anonymous said...

A blog has started to fight Psycho Donuts and other organizations that stigmatize the mentally ill. Http://psychodonuts.wordpress.com